I-85 Collapse: March 30 Incident Brought Out Best In Some

April 14, 2017

The fire that brought down a 350-foot section of I-85 on March 30th was a low point for some, but it brought out the best in others. Now those who performed at their highest levels on that fateful day will receive some well-deserved recognition. It is truly amazing that no one was injured or killed either by the fire that raged below the superstructure or from the collapse of the span itself. Atlanta motorists have quick-thinking police and fire personnel to thank.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed showered police and fire with praise and gratitude for their rapid decision making which prevented loss of life. Without their efforts, the damage would have been exponentially worse. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mayor Reed called the first responders "heroes."

The men and women who step into harm's way to protect the average citizen surely are heroes. Later this week, President Donald Trump will receive the police and fire personnel at the White House to express his gratitude for preventing tragedy. The exact details of the White House ceremony have not been released to this point.

Police officers and firefighters anticipated tragedy was looming. They stopped traffic moving in both directions during rush hour during the afternoon of March 30. Traffic was also stopped on roads crossing under the ill-fated span. The fire spread quickly as flames and thick black smoke billowed out from below the Interstate. It was not long before the span crashed to the road below.

After the incident, Georgia Department of Transportation officials claimed that they had no way to foresee that the construction materials stored under I-85 would be set ablaze, let alone anticipate the road would weaken and collapse. The police and fire officials who responded that night could expect a problem. First responders kept motorists and pedestrians away from danger as the conflagration overwhelmed the area. There is no telling how significant the loss of life would have been if they did not make the decisions they made that night.

The heroic acts continue daily. Although they may be less dramatic, they are no less appreciated. Two local businesses collaborated to show their appreciation for the hard work the men and women who are toiling to rebuild I-85. Crews have worked around the clock to rebuild the span as fast as possible. One local eatery donated burgers and a liquor store distributed the food to workers.  The construction workers, in turn, expressed their gratitude for the gesture. The liquor store announced plans to collaborate with another local restaurant to show appreciation to the night crews for their efforts.  There is no doubt we will continue to see Atlanta come together as a community during this difficult time.

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